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2 Killed When F-16, Small Plane Crash; Jet Pilot Safe

Updated 5:15 EST

An F-16 fighter jet smashed into a small plane Tuesday over South Carolina, killing two people and raining down plane parts and debris over a wide swath of marshes and rice fields.

Two people were aboard the smaller Cessna, which was completely destroyed, and both died, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said. The pilot of the F-16 ejected and "is apparently uninjured," he said. A press release from Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter said the pilot, Maj. Aaron Johnson from the 55th Fighter Squadron, was taken to Joint Base Charleston's medical clinic for observation.

There are not yet any details on what caused the collision or where the planes were traveling, though the NTSB is investigating.

Debris was scattered across a wide area, though there were no reports of anyone being hurt or any homes being damaged on the ground, Berkeley County spokesman Michael Mule said.

There are homes in the area about 20 miles northwest of Charleston, though it is not densely populated, Mule said.

A witness reported that the military plane broadsided the Cessna, said Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury. Officials said during a news conference that most of the debris was in a marshy area, including a rice field.

"We have airboats and boats that are designed to run in the mud," Salisbury said.

Wayne Ware told The Post and Courier of Charleston he was going for a walk when he heard the crash happen. He did not see the initial impact, but heard it.

"I turned around, and I saw the jet. Pieces started falling out of the sky," Ware said, telling the paper the jet's engine landed at a campground.

The Air Force has flown F-16s since the 1970s, though very few active-duty squadrons still fly them. F-16s from Shaw Air Force Base, about 35 miles east of Columbia, routinely fly training missions over eastern South Carolina and the Atlantic.

The smaller plane was a Cessna 150, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, a two-seat plane that debuted in 1959 and remains one of the most common single-engine planes in the U.S.

The Cessna 150's maximum altitude is about 15,000 feet, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Most models weigh about 1,500 pounds when fully fueled. By comparison, an F-16 is about 50 feet long and weighs nearly 10 tons, not counting fuel or weapons.

Associated Press writer Jack Jones in Columbia contributed to this report.

Updated 2:05 PM EST

CHARLESTON, S.C. — An F-16 fighter jet and a small plane collided Tuesday over South Carolina, raining down plane parts and debris.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the fighter jet collided with a Cessna around 11 a.m. about 11 miles north of Charleston.

Lt. Jenny Hyden, a spokeswoman for Shaw Air Force Base in Columbia, said the pilot ejected to safety and was taken to the base for observation. She did not disclose his condition. No one else was on board the single-seat jet.

It was not immediately known how many people were on board the smaller plane or if any of them survived. It also was not immediately known if anyone was hurt on the ground.

A witness reported that the military plane broadsided the smaller Cessna, said Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury. He said debris was scattered over a wide area. Officials said during a news conference that most of the debris was in a marshy area, including a rice field.

"We have airboats and boats that are designed to run in the mud," Salisbury said.

The National Transportation Safety Board has opened a probe into the collision and is sending an investigator, said Keith Holloway, a spokesman for the board.

The Air Force has flown F-16s since the 1970s, though very few active-duty squadrons still fly them. F-16s from Shaw Air Force Base, about 35 miles east of Columbia, routinely fly training missions over eastern South Carolina and the Atlantic.

The smaller plane was a Cessna 150, according to the FAA, a two-seat plane that debuted in 1959 and remains one of the most common single-engine planes in the U.S.

The Cessna 150's maximum altitude is about 15,000 feet, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Most models weigh about 1,500 pounds when fully fueled. By comparison, an F-16 is about 50 feet long and weighs nearly 10 tons, not counting fuel or weapons.

Updated 1:25 PM EST

CHARLESTON, S.C. — An Air Force official says the pilot of a crashed F-16 fighter jet has been taken to a base in South Carolina for observation.

Lt. Jenny Hyden at Shaw Air Force Base says the pilot was taken to the base for observation, though she did not disclose his condition.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the fighter jet collided with a Cessna around 11 a.m. Tuesday about 11 miles north of Charleston.

It was not immediately known how many people were on board the smaller plane or if any of them survived.

Shaw Air Force Base said in a statement that a team of investigators would look into the cause of the crash.

Original Story

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Federal officials say an F-16 fighter jet and a small plane have collided in midair in South Carolina.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement Tuesday that the fighter jet collided with a Cessna C150 around 11 a.m. The collision happened about 11 miles north of Charleston.

No other details were immediately available.

North Charleston Fire Department spokeswoman Bianca Bourbeau says the agency has sent a chief and a marine unit to assist Berkeley County with a reported plane crash, and will send other help as needed.

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